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Town abandons proposal to move town offices into former Kmart building

A proposal to move several Riverhead Town offices into the former Kmart site on Northville Turnpike has been rejected, according to Councilman Tim Hubbard. 

“It’s over with now,” he said. 

“The property owner (East End Commons LLC) didn’t want to sell their building to us,” he said in an interview Friday. “They wanted us to lease for 10 years and then have the first option to buy it.” 

The Town was hoping to move several offices into the Kmart building, including the Town Hall, the Building Department, the Ambulance barn on Osborn Avenue, the Senior Center in Aquebogue and Town Hall West on Pulaski Street. 

The Justice Court would be moved to the existing Town Hall and the police department would expand. 

This plan also enabled the town to sell some of the buildings they no longer needed.

Councilman Ken Rothwell said the terms of a longterm lease could increase greatly by the end of contract. 

The town also looked at the former Walmart site on Route 58, but Mr. Rothwell said that building is now in contract with Restaurant Depot, a nationwide company that sells food and supplies to restaurants, and is not open to the public.

Riverhead officials have been trying to get additional space for Town Hall and the Police Department and Justice Court for some time. The town had considered moving the police and courts into the former Armory on Route 58, which the town owns. This proposal would have required extensive renovation. 

“Financially it didn’t make sense,” Mr. Rothwell said.

According to Mr. Hubbard, the town is considering adding onto the current Town Hall by either building an addition on the grass area west of the entrance to Town Hall, and adding a two-story addition, or possibly building a new Town Hall where the front parking lot is located, and then demolishing the current Town Hall and turning that into parking. 

“We’re in the early stages of all these,” Mr. Hubbard said. 

The town can’t build a second story on the current Town Hall because of structural issues and because it would disrupt the work flow.